Britney Agrees to Permanent Conservatorship, Jeopardizes Custody Chances

Court commissioner finds arrangement to be "necessary and appropriate"; Spears doesn't argue

By Natalie Finn Oct 29, 2008 1:35 AMTags
Jamie Spears, Britney SpearsKevin Mazur/Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.com

Britney Spears may be comebacking like a madwoman, but the court thinks she can still use some guidance on that road to redemption.

The popster's conservatorship arrangement with father Jamie Spears was made permanent today, with no objection coming from the 26-year-old "Womanizer" warbler. If the terms of the deal remain the same, her dad will continue to oversee her estate, finances, legal affairs and medical care along with attorney Andrew Wallet.

"The court finds the proposed permanent conservatorship is necessary and appropriate," said Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz, who has been presiding over the Spears saga for the past year, at a Tuesday status hearing.

And while Britney was no fan of the arrangement back when it was imposed Feb. 1, her attorney informed the court today that his client had requested he not argue with Goetz's ruling, despite the fact that it's very unlikely Spears will be able to regain custody of her two sons while her dad is in charge.

"It certainly makes it more difficult to gain custody of the children because if one court found that she is not capable of taking care of herself and affairs than how is the other court going to find her able to take care of the affairs of two babies," certified family law specialist Alexandra Leichter tells E! News.

The conservatorship seems to have been made permanent because "the condition that apparently caused temporary conservatorship did not change," she said.

Britney memorably lost control of her affairs following her hospitalization Jan. 31 on a 5150 hold, meaning she was considered a danger to herself or others. The involuntary R&R came after months of erratic, worrisome behavior on the popster's part.

"The burden now shifts to Britney Spears or her conservator [Spears' father] to prove that she is perfectly capable, rather than the conservator having to prove that she is not capable," says Leichter.

"If the court makes it a permanent order, she would have to come into court and show that she no longer needs it."

Not that permanent means forever.

"The permanent conservatorship doesn't have a set date to expire," court public information spokeswoman Vania Stuelp tells E! News.

"In order to make it go away, someone has to petition the court. It was supposed to expire on Dec. 31. It's not anymore."

In the meantime, an evaluation detailing Spears' psychological fortitude has been completed and will remain sealed, Goetz said. Another status hearing has been set for Dec. 22.

But while this may all be as-expected news for Britney's camp, it doesn't bode well for the lawsuit against her filed by former manager Johnny Wright.

Saying that Spears' "capacity issue remains open and has not been resolved one way or another," Goetz ruled earlier today that Wright's attorneys are not allowed to depose Spears, whom he says owes thousands in unpaid commissions, until the conservatorship ends.

"We think it's reasonable," Wright's lawyer, Clay Townsend, who had been hoping to have Brit sit for a deposition Nov. 17, tells E! News. "Being on the cover of OK magazine, signing a big contract with AEG to go on a world tour, going on Good Morning America—gosh, it seems fairly reasonable to try to do a deposition in late November. It's not like she is in the hospital and we are dying to go down and take her deposition."

Instead, they will have to speak with ruler-of-the-roost Jamie Spears next month.

"She seemed to be doing so well, that we thought it was not unreasonable," Townsend added. "My client Johnny Wright still has great affection for Britney. He worked with Britney for a long time in the early days. So that last thing that we would want to do was to harass her."

Goetz said that she will revisit the deposition issue Feb. 2.

—Reporting by Whitney English and Claudia Rosenbaum

(Originally published Oct. 28, 2008 at 3:10 p.m .PT)